Ildiko Czigany: Hungary's first high-flying female pilot

Ildiko Czigany, photo:

She is blond, she is young and she is the first female airline captain in Hungary. Ildiko Czigany had to set high standards to accomplish her life's dream - flying more than 4,500 hours to qualify for the post. And Ildiko seems to have broken the ice in Hungary, now there are three more female candidates aiming to land in this still male-dominated career.

Radio Budapest spoke with Ildiko Czigany:

"I never planned to be the first female pilot. That happened by chance. All I wanted was to become a pilot. But I was the first and that shows that the world is changing and it is a very nice thing for me."

Did you have to achieve a lot? How did it all begin?

"It was exactly sixteen years ago when I began to fly small planes - gliding and twin-engine aircraft and I was an instructor and enjoyed acrobatic flying. After nine years, I became a passenger plane pilot."

I wonder what makes a woman fly...

"The same things that drives a man to become a pilot. There is no difference between a lady or a man in this respect. I wanted to know how it feels to find the runway in Paris or some other city, for example, and how the aerodynamics of the machinery work in the air. So, these are the questions I had. I didn't want to be a normal passenger in a plane. I wanted to understand what goes on in the air."

Is it correct that a ministerial decree had to be modified so that you, as a woman, could become a captain?

"Yes, seven or eight years ago it was modified so that I could become a woman pilot but it was not only for me. It was modified to quicken the procedure."

What does your ordinary day look like?

"I don't think I have an ordinary day. Every day is different. This is the life of a pilot."

Are there any destinations that you like particularly or any you dislike?

"I like Paris the most - I used to study on a scholarship there. I have flown to Paris several times. I also like the island of Greece."

What do you like so much about them?

"Paris has always been my favourite city. It was my second home. The island of Greece is very nice - the view is nice - and it's a challenge for a pilot. It is different from Germany, Italy, or other big airports in Europe."

Do you have a family?

"No. I have no children. This is not by chance. I always feel I need to do something else. I admire all women who have children and live the traditional life but I'm not that type of woman. I have chosen to fly and to spend time with my animals. I also like to learn about veterinary and have many other hobbies like karate, for example."